Today at church Pastor Craig spoke about shame and pain. I honestly don’t remember the passage he read from in Romans, but in a nutshell, he spoke about how hard times don’t have to define us. Instead, these hard times can be used for good when we are transformed and then reach down to help someone else.
I found him in the cake and coffee line and I told him I had an edit to his sermon. At this point an elderly lady in the congregation took her leave (“Oh, Lord, it’s going to get sassy now!”) but Pastor Craig just stood there smiling. It’s what I love about him most. He’s comfortable enough with God, and himself, that he can listen… truly listen…. to other’s viewpoints without being offended. At our progressive church, it’s actually welcomed. (Both the listening and the questioning. It’s like my 12 step minus the drunk-a-logs!)
Me: “I like what you said about shame transforming, but I feel what could have been added is a piece on acceptance.”
Craig: “Go on,” he said.
Me: “I feel that people suffer a lot because they don’t admit that what is going on in the first place is not working… or that they are out of options… or have just hit bottom. If they could just accept it, then they could grieve it, give it to God, and then the beautiful work of healing could begin.”
He just smiled and nodded his head. “I couldn’t agree more,” he said.
A few years ago the idea of questioning a passage of scripture would have made me feel like a heathen. Now it feels the more I question the more welcome I am. It’s kind of like my 12 step group. If someone says, “I drank a few glasses of wine and now I’m here” people smile and offer them a cup of coffee. But if someone says, “I drank two six packs a night, had four DUIs and danced naked at my daughter’s quinceanera” raucous laughter peals out. The worse the story the better the welcome.
The deeper the death of ego the higher the resurrection of the better self.
Such radical honesty is a refreshing way to heal… to just be oneself and know one is welcome anyway. No right or wrong. Just honest truth about where one finds oneself.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling transparent and raw. I don’t like admitting that I don’t know everything. That sometimes my husband and I still fight about the stupidest stuff. That my son’s tics sometimes hit my ear drums and I just want silence. Blessed quiet. That I worry about my kids going to college or that I’m almost 50 and see yet another wrinkle creeping in. Oh my God! I can’t stop time! I can’t stop inherited conditions! Why am I not over it yet?! Suffering suffering angst and grrrr!!!!
And yet, when I just surrender that I don’t have to have it all figured out…. That I’m not perfect, nor is my husband… that my son is doing just fine with his little noises and my kids are perfectly content with their lot in life…. that it’s just me with my ego and my hopes and my not yet fulfilled dreams not trusting God… I can then do what I should have done from the very beginning. I can tell God I am scared and sad. And when I do, the funny thing is, I feel relief. And then, like Pastor Craig talked about, I can let God in to fill the places that no one ever could in the first place. Not my husband or a non-ticking kid or script being sold or a full scholarship for my kids to Harvard.
Happiness is not when things are better.
Happiness is right now in the mess and the chaos and the unanswered questions and just knowing that I don’t need to have all the answers because God does.
When I remember that hard things life doesn’t happen to me but they happen for me to let go and let God transform my pea sized mind from negativity to absolute acceptance, life is so incredibly beautiful I could just die.
Or, at least at this very moment, go to bed. Fathers Day kicked my ass this year.
What Do You Need to Surrender to Be Happy? I’d Love to Know Leave a Comment
My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. )
(Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook.
6 thoughts on “When Life Happens For You, Everything Changes”
In some ways, my intelligence. I think if you start to think too deeply, it only gets you in troubke
LA, what do you value most about your intelligence and how does it challenge you?
Andrea, thank you for your openness and honesty. In preaching the passage from Romans 5:1-5, I was struck by the parallels (and languaging differences) between our Christian faith and the 12 Step movement. Of course I shouldn’t be, as the founders of the 12 Step movement were men of deep faith. In talking about the roles our challenges play in our lives and how we should be proud of them, I felt like Paul was talking about how hitting our bottom can be a gift – as it causes us to FINALLY face our character defects and finiteness and begin the journey toward healing and wholeness. Grace then is that wonderful ingredient that helps us spring up from that bottom and soar to new heights.
I also loved the way you talked about the messiness of your life (which mirrors the messiness of all our lives). One of my greatest sadnesses in life is the way some have been taught to read Scripture. Some were taught that the Bible is full of stories of amazing, righteous, perfect people who never messed up. Our goal, then, should be to be amazing, righteous, and perfect people just like them.
The only problem with that is that the people in those biblical stories weren’t amazing, righteous, and perfect all the time. Moses stuttered, had anger management issues, and was prone to argue with God (i.e. the whole “pick Aaron and not me” conversation). David had a raging sense of entitlement at times that made him feel t was okay to pursue his affair with Bathsheba. Peter was an impetuous soul who tended to wilt under pressure. You name the individual, and they had elements of their lives that were every bit as messy as yours.
Which takes us to what I think the real point of their stories. The point is that our spiritual ancestors weren’t chosen because they were better than us; they were chosen because they were exactly like us. And if God can be present in them and inspire them to do amazing
and righteous things, then guess what: God can do the same with us.
One last thing. As you wrestle with those wonderful, holy questions that occasionally pop up, please remember the story of Jacob and his wrestling match with the angel in Genesis 32:22-31. Jacob wasn’t ultimately punished or demoted because he had the audacity to wrestle with an expression of the Divine (though there was that whole “angel touching the socket of his hip and throwing it out” dimension of the story that reminds us wrestling does have some pain associated with it). What I carry from the story is the blessing that Jacob received – a blessing the angel said was extended “because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” That blessing empowered him – and his descendants – to go on and do great things.
Wrestle on, Andrea, wrestle on. I see your faith growing through the holy questions to which you give voice. Like Jacob, your wrestling will equip you to do amazing things!
Oh my gosh the infamous Pastor Craig commented on my blog. Let me just tell you that your comments along are so thought-provoking and I’m so grateful for you in my life. That is one thing I do not wrestle with. (Though I do like the idea of becoming a lady wrestler with a funky costume. I just need a name now. Bible Betty? Not so much LOL)
I always think that that those who can talk from the heart whilst truly listening to other’s viewpoints without being offended and/or telling them they are mistaken are the best kind of people to have conversations with.
Tracy, me, too! I just need to become one of those people!!!😂